Assayer of Student Opinion.

The Prospector

Assayer of Student Opinion.

The Prospector

Assayer of Student Opinion.

The Prospector

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A cautionary tale

As an older student attending UTEP, I thought university life would be less of a challenge, because of my years of real-world experience.

So far, this has not been the case.

I am surrounded by younger students, who remind me on a daily basis of my misspent youth and missed opportunities at landing a lucrative successful career that will now be more difficult to obtain.

When I first attended college, there was no Internet (cue screams). Research papers were actually typed on a device called a typewriter and all resource materials were housed in the college library that could be retrieved through the use of card catalogs (more screams).

Buying textbooks was relatively inexpensive and most books could be sold back to the bookstore for a little less than their original cost.

Financial aid came by way of Pell grants that were more than enough to cover tuition, text books and living expenses on the condition of maintaining a 2.5 grade point average and without the added burden of paying it back.

It may have been campus life at EPCC, but it was a free education that I failed to take advantage of.

My social life, which meant getting drunk and hitting on college girls (with no success) had consumed me, and I soon found myself on academic probation followed by my eventual suspension.

I quit college after convincing myself that I was young enough to take some time off to figure out what I really wanted to do with my life.

The years quickly passed and times have changed.

Nowadays, I sit in classes where instructors are younger than me and often refer to me as sir.

There are moments when I feel like the Pony Express, trying to keep up in a world of emails and generation text.

While students hook up, I remember being absorbed with other people’s properties and searching for a pay phone to call the number on my pager.

The concept of a laptop computer and cell phone still amazes me, although I cannot be considered tech savvy by any stretch of the imagination. I believe Blackboard was invented by Jerry Jones because most of the time I don’t understand it.

I do not possess the wealth or good looks of George Clooney, Denzel Washington or Danny Glover to turn the heads of young attractive female students. All I receive are charitable smiles, coupled with offers of chewing gum, breath mints and escorts when crossing the street (not really).

Reality has taught me that I have to try harder to compete with students who are younger, smarter and more technologically advanced than I am. The odds are definitely against me once I graduate and start searching for a high-paying job to pay off my school loan debt.

Yet, I am thankful that I have the opportunity to do so and I appreciate every day I am in class, instead of pretending that I will somehow get rich punching a clock—living someone else’s dream.

I am very grateful for the opportunity to pursue my own dream.

Ben Woolridge may be reached at [email protected].

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A cautionary tale